North Central district welcomes new Superintendent

September 29, 2014

Click here to listen to Rev. Gillespie's sermon entitled, "What do you think?" 

Click here to see a images from the service.

Click here to read a synopsis of Rev. Gillespie's sermon, entitled, "What Do You Think?"

With joy and an invitation to "Come Long Expected Jesus," Rev. Harlan Gillespie was welcomed to the ministry of the Superintendency of the North Central District of the Iowa Conference.  The service, held at First United Methodist Church, Iowa Falls, included the opportunity to "remember your baptism and be thankful." 

Rev. Carol Myers and Rev. Jeff Blackman, pastors of the church, offered a welcome to the gathered community, which included four of Rev. Gillespie's fellow Superintendents as well as clergy and laity from the District.

In her greeting, Rev. Emily Peasley, Chairperson of the North Central District Ministry Committee, said, " God our Maker yours are the hands that traced the rainbow and hurled the stars into space.  Come God and meet us here.”  Joined by Dan Corrow and Duane Kruckenberg, the district's co-Lay Leaders, added, “God our Maker, our Redeemer, our Comforter you write our names on the palms of your hands. You are our God.  We are here to worship you.”

Rev. Katharine Yarnell, Field Outreach Minister for the district, let the congregation in prayer.  “O God, you poured out yourself into the world, full to overflowing, and what was revealed was not “what” but “who.”  Come to us again, not as some abstract, theological precept, but as the God who you are: Holy Spirit, the person of Christ resurrected, real and present on the earth.  And let the attitude of Christ be within us, personally as your church, here and now.”

In “A Covenant of Mission and Ministry” Bishop Julius Trimble spoke directly to Rev. Gillespie.  “Harlan, you have been appointed to be among us for the ministry of Word and Sacrament; and called to a special ministry of leadership. You are called to guard the faith, to seek the unity of the faith, to exercise the discipline of the Church, and to support the Church’s life, work, and mission.”  In addition, the Bishop asked the gathered community, “Brothers and sisters in Christ, as a people committed to participate in the ministries of the Church by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness, will you support and uphold Harlan in these ministries?”

Noting the team aspect of ministry in the North Central district, Bishop Trimble said, “District Administrative Assistant, Alanna Warren, Field Outreach Minister, Rev. Dr. Katharine Yarnell, Superintendent Rev. Harlan Gillespie, and Co-District Lay Leaders, Dan Carrow and Duane Kruckenberg, have been set aside for mission and ministry along with you, the clergy and laity of the North Central District, to be the body of Christ called United Methodists of the North Central District of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church.”  In recognition of being together in ministry, the community was invited to “remember your baptism and be thankful! [Seek] the attitude of Jesus Christ in whom we live, let us bless and commend one another to Jesus Christ as his church in the world!”

Scriptures included selections from Philippians, read by Mary Patterson, the North Central Lay Servant Ministry Chairperson, and Matthew, in preparation for Rev. Gillespie's sermon, "What do you think?"

With a brief nod to the Bears fans and Packer fans who were part of the gathered community for the Installation service, Rev. Harlan Gillespie, the new Superintendent of the North Central District, asked people, “What do you think?”  Following the call and response of faith experienced by Jesus’ followers and critics, Rev. Gillespie urged all to respond to God’s invitation, “What do you think?” as he had done years ago during his own call to ministry.

“I know that there are two things that are true,” Rev. Gillespie confessed.  “One is gravity…and the other is the reality of Grace…the unmerited free gift of God’s love…Even though I didn’t know I was lost. That’s what I know to be true. And you know what? Truth be told, I think I am still lost sinner. Maybe you are too.”

“So while we say to each other, ‘What do you think?” just remember, we’re all walking along with each other.”

Rev. Bill Poland, Assistant to the Bishop for Administration, extended the invitation to Communion, which included the prayerful opportunity "By the inspiration of [the] Holy Spirit, fix the attitude of Christ in us" and Bishop Julius Trimble offered the Great Thanksgiving to Communion

“The installation of Harlan as the Conference Superintendent for the North Central district was an affirmation and ‘thank you’ to Bishop Trimble appointing him to serve in this way and place,” said Rev. Emily Peasley, chairperson of the district’s Ministry Committee.  “It was an official way to welcome Harlan and Deb to the district.  It was a celebration of not only Harlan and Deb's ministry but also the ministry that is currently being done in the district.”

She also voiced that hope that Rev. Gillespie  “ continues to use the gifts God has given him to lead God's people.  Many churches in the district have begun or are in the Healthy Church Initiative process and need continued support from Harlan for the revitalization of the churches and reaching out and sharing the love of God with those in our communities.  Hispanic and Korean ministries are also a main focus for the District and so we hope Harlan will help to continue to support these ministries specifically as well.”